I am a speech-language pathologist. I am also an introvert. It seems incredibly contradictory that a personality type such as mine would be drawn to this field. We’re supposed to be experts at talking and socializing with people, and sometimes those are the very things that I need a break from in my own life.
As I started my journey into this field, I wondered if there were others in my profession who also felt a little unsure about how compatible being an introvert is with their career choices. In school, my peers were chatty and eager to be at the center of attention, while I have often been told, “Be more animated!” or “Speak louder!” Traditionally, society values loud, bigger-than-life, outgoing, and well-networked personalities, but being an introvert in the field of communication sciences—or in any typically extroverted field such as business or education—can be an incredibly valuable trait.
Being an introvert should never discourage you from pursuing a field you love. I’ve come to realize that what makes me an introvert is what makes me good at my job.
1. Introverts are great listeners. Many people may think that speech therapists spend their days talking, but in reality, I spend most of my day listening and encouraging my students to express themselves. Listening requires patience and taking the time to build trust. People want to feel like they are being heard no matter what job you hold.
2. We communicate effectively through writing. I can nerd out over writing a report, making sure that I describe my client in as much detail as possible. Our profession requires strong writing skills, and having these skills will set you apart from the rest.
3. We may need to think before talking, but this is a strength. In our professional lives, thinking before talking allows us to choose our words deliberately and assess the situation instead of getting caught up in the moment.
4. We are creative. Introverts enjoy spending time alone thinking, reading, and dreaming up new ideas. Collaboration is still important, but creativity often comes from solitude and the world inside one’s mind. We can be creative when designing therapy materials, but we also use our creativity when developing a plan for how to reach a student or client.
5. We focus on detail. I love assessing, keeping data, and monitoring the progress of my clients. We notice things that others may not— details that may help us identify or devise a plan to help our students succeed.
6. We have an understanding of other introverts. We appreciate the fact that some students/clients need time to think before they respond, that they do better working alone, or that they may have more difficulties with navigating the giant social world.
My profession and life experience have taught me that all personality types have great strengths along with weaknesses. Previously, I had always viewed my personality as defective and other, more outgoing, people as having likable personalities. I thought they had a natural edge to be more successful in their careers. What I didn’t realize is that we all have the ability to be great. We just have to be true to ourselves and let our natural strengths shine. Whatever your career is, being an introvert can be a huge asset. Don’t let anyone deter you from your goals because they think you are “too quiet.”
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